The created realm shouts aloud the glory of God: sky, sun, moon, stars, rainbow, lightning, storm, wind, snow, frost, clouds, dew. He is all in all!
The Book of Sirach is recognized as Deuterocanonical Scripture by the Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and Catholic Churches
VERSE 1. The pride of the height is the firmament in its clearness, The appearance of heaven, in the spectacle of its glory.
NAB translation. The clear vault of the sky shines forth like heaven itself, a vision of glory.
its clearness. The glory of God is evident. It is clear to those who look.
Wisdom 13:1. For truly all men who had no perception of God were vain by nature, and didn’t gain power to know him who exists from the good things that are seen. They didn’t recognize the architect from his works.
Sirach 43:1. The pride of the height is the firmament in its clearness, The appearance of heaven, in the spectacle of its glory.
Romans 1:20. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity, that they may be without excuse.
the spectacle of its glory. God’s glory is not hidden. Rather, it shines forth. It shines forth for us to behold.
VERSE 2. The sun when he appears, bringing tidings as he goes forth, Is a marvelous instrument, the work of the Most High:
NAB translation. The orb of the sun, resplendent at its rising: what a wonderful work of the Most High!
bringing tidings as he goes forth. The sun is respondent at its rising.
the Most High. This name for God seems to have begun after the people returned from their exile in Babylon.
NAB translation. At noon it scorches the earth, and who can bear its fiery heat?
he dries up the country. The sun scorches the earth.
VERSE 4. A man blowing a furnace is in works of heat, But the sun three times more, burning up the mountains: Breathing out fiery vapours, And sending forth bright beams, he dims the eyes.
NAB translation. Like a blazing furnace of solid metal, it sets the mountains aflame with its rays; By its fiery darts the land is consumed; the eyes are dazzled by its light.
burning up the mountains. The sun sets the mountains aflame with its rays. It consumes the land.
Lamentations 3:22-23. It is because of the LORD’s loving kindnesses that we are not consumed, because his compassion doesn’t fail. 23 They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.
NAB translation. Great indeed is the LORD who made it, at whose orders it urges on its steeds.
This verse about the majesty of the sun. However, the Catholic translations seem to say something very different:
NABRE translation. Great indeed is the LORD who made it, at whose orders it urges on its steeds.
1. What is a steed? A steed is a spirited horse being ridden, especially for war. So is the sun riding a horse? And why is that horse being urged on?
2. Other translations. We checked seven more translations. They were all very similar to the WEB translation. None of them mentioned a horse. Here they are: Douay-Rheims, Good News Translation, King James Version with Apocrypha, NRSV, RSV, and RSV Catholic Edition.
3. Had the sun been slowing down? Is God commanding the sun to vary the length of the solar orbit? That does not not fit the generally observed reality. Except for that one instance where Joshua commanded the sun to stop (see Joshua 10:12).
4. The rule of context. The previous verse talks about rays and darts. So we wondered if that ties into the interpretation of steeds. Is the word “steed” being used as a metaphor for the rays of the sun, as they dart their way to the earth?
We believe the word “steed” is being used as a metaphor for the rays of the sun, as they dart their way to the earth. The “fiery darts” of the sunlight in the previous verse are riding on race horses that deliver them to the earth.
The distance from earth to sun is 93 million miles. Light travels at a speed of 186,287 miles per second. It takes the sun’s light 8 minutes to reach the earth. That is a very fast race horse!
VERSE 6. The moon also is in all things for her season, For a declaration of times, and a sign of the world.
NAB translation. The moon, too, that marks the changing times, governing the seasons, their lasting sign,
NAB translation. The moon, too, that marks the changing times, governing the seasons, their lasting sign.
It turns out that the moon follows different paths across the sky (from moonrise to moonset) based on the season and on its phase.
We suspect the ancients spent a lot more time looking at the sky and were therefore much more familiar with where the moon would be and when it would be there.
So the author is indicating that an individual season’s lasting sign is the path that the moon follows across the sky. When the seasons change, the path changes.
Who knew studying the Bible could help you learn (and appreciate) astronomy?
Here is a phrase-by-phrase comparison between the two translations:
The moon also. That is, “The moon, too” (NAB translation).
is in all things for her season. That is, “that marks the changing times” (NAB translation).
For a declaration of times. That is, “governing the seasons”(NAB translation).
and a sign of the world. That is, “their lasting sign” (NAB translation).
VERSE 7. From the moon is the sign of the feast day; A light that wanes when she is come to the full.
NAB translation. By which we know the feast days and fixed dates, this light-giver which wanes in its course:
VERSE 8. The month is called after her name, Increasing wonderfully in her changing; An instrument of the army on high, Shining forth in the firmament of heaven;
NAB translation. As its name says, each month it renews itself; how wondrous in this change!
Increasing wonderfully in her changing. The selection of the word “in” is intriguing. It suggests the moon is wonderful because of the changing.
Conversely, if it were the word were “is,” it would mean the change itself is wonderful. The change itself is what is wonderful, and not the moon.
VERSE 9. The beauty of heaven, the glory of the stars, An ornament giving light in the highest places of the Lord.
NAB translation. The beauty, the glory of the heavens are the stars that adorn with their sparkling the heights of God,
VERSE 10a. At the word of the Holy One they will stand in due order, And they will not faint in their watches.
NAB translation. At whose command they keep their place and never relax in their vigils.
VERSE 10b. A weapon against the flood waters stored on high, lighting up the firmament by [its] brilliance, [NAB translation]
VERSE 11. Look upon the rainbow, and praise him that made it; Exceeding beautiful in the brightness thereof.
VERSE 12. It encircles the heaven round about with a circle of glory; The hands of the Most High have stretched it.
VERSE 13. By his commandment he makes the snow to fall apace, And sends swiftly the lightnings of his judgement.
VERSE 16. And at his appearing the mountains will be shaken, And at his will the south wind will blow.
VERSE 17. The voice of his thunder makes the earth to travail; So does the northern storm and the whirlwind: As birds flying down he sprinkles the snow; And as the lighting of the locust is the falling down thereof:
VERSE 18. The eye will marvel at the beauty of its whiteness, And the heart will be astonished at the raining of it.
VERSE 19. The hoar frost also he pours on the earth as salt; And when it is congealed, it is as points of thorns.
VERSE 20. The cold north wind shall blow, And the ice shall be congealed on the water: It shall lodge upon every gathering together of water, And the water shall put on as it were a breastplate.
VERSE 21. It shall devour the mountains, and burn up the wilderness, And consume the green herb as fire.
VERSE 22. A mist coming speedily is the healing of all things; A dew coming after heat shall bring cheerfulness.
NAB translation. His is the plan that calms the deep, and plants the islands in the sea.
God gives the gift of Contemplative Prayer to many people. Through this simplest way of praying, God calms one’s soul and gives it deep inner peace.
VERSE 24. They that sail on the sea tell of the danger thereof; And when we hear it with our ears, we marvel.
VERSE 25. Therein be also h3 strange and wondrous works, Variety of all that has life, the race of sea-monsters.
Lots of preachers would do well to acknowledge this verse. Instead, they drone on and on.
VERSE 28. How shall we have strength to glorify him? For he is himself the great one above all his works.
How shall we have strength to glorify him? Many people speak as though they have mastery of God. They talk like they know everything. We’d like to show how preposterous that is.
Let’s pretend for a moment that we can represent the totality of God by a number. This is silly, but play along. Let’s pick the number of one hundred trillion: 100,000,000,000,000.
Compared to that number, the sum total of all that God has revealed to us humans throughout all of our history might be a single digit number, say, 7. To us, the number 7 seems like a lot. And it is.
Now let’s compare the numbers. The entire human knowledge of God is 7. But the totality of God is one hundred trillion. Essentially, we know almost nothing. This is not to trivialize the progressive revelation of God. Rather, its to to give glory to God, by showing how far he is beyond our trivial human comprehension.
he is … above all his works. Some people experience God when they go out into nature. We celebrate that. However, God is so far more than just the creation.
VERSE 30. When you glorify the Lord, exalt him as much as you can; For even yet he will exceed: And when you exalt him, put forth your full strength: Be not weary; for you will never attain.
Sirach 43:31. Who has seen him, that he may declare him? And who shall magnify him as he is?
Romans 11:33. Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!
1 Corinthians 2:11. For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God, except God’s Spirit.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.